Since the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese in the late 1950’s, there has been a systematic programme to destroy the unique Tibetan Buddhist Culture within that country’s borders. For that reason, it is particularly important that this remarkable culture is preserved in exile.
Seventeen intrepid Ardingly students accompanied by three teachers were afforded the extraordinary opportunity of experiencing one of the most vibrant Tibetan communities in Northern India in the hillside town of Bir. The programme was devised to ensure that the students learnt and appreciated as much as possible about Tibetan culture, whilst lending service by teaching English at the Tibetan Children’s Village school at Suja, and at one of the three magnificent local monasteries.
Our students were welcomed with great excitement by their Tibetan counterparts and learnt a great deal about the challenges of teaching classes that varied in age from four years old to eighteen. Classroom activities they had prepared throughout the year were well received, though some had to be adapted in line with the circumstances, which our students achieved with great aplomb and good humour.
We had a wonderful and happy time in a programme that also involved visits to Old Delhi and the Taj Mahal. A particular highlight was the visit to the Norbulingka Institute near Dharamshala, a cultural centre where Tibetan arts and crafts were being passed on to the next generation.
The students of Ardingly College were a credit to the school both in teaching and in their openness to the remarkable and special Tibetan Culture.